The Malta Independent 23 January 2021, Saturday

FAA calls for protection of Gozo’s heritage and quality of life

Thursday, 14 January 2021, 10:40 Last update: about 8 days ago

Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar (FAA) has welcomed the Planning Authority's decision to refuse the application for a five-storey plus penthouse block of apartments in the Xagħra Urban Conservation Area, which is within the 50m buffer zone of a Grade 1 scheduled windmill.

"The hotly-debated session ultimately focused on the application of the Planning Authority policy regarding the surroundings of scheduled buildings, issued last March with the backing of Minister Aaron Farrugia. This policy stipulates that the effects of recent developments should be lessened rather than worsened, in order to improve the overall context of the historic building. This goes contrary to recent practice where past eyesores are taken as a precedent to justify further uglification."

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However, while this remains a policy, the protection of the surroundings remains subject to the PA boards' discretion, the FAA said. The FAA called for its legal ratification in order to ensure that it applies fairly and uniformly to all projects.

FAA also called for the immediate rescinding of the DC 15 Annex 1 building heights, which are allowing extra building heights all over Malta and Gozo, including within buffer zones.

"These 5 and 6 storey buildings are destroying village cores and creating unsightly party walls in urban conservation areas. Gozo skylines are fast being destroyed by such vast expanses of walls rising up in supposedly 2/3 storey areas, marring traditional vistas."

"Recent development applications include massive blocks of hotels and 50-70 holiday flats in Xlendi, Xagħra, Nadur and Qala that will wreck the quality of life of old-established communities. The comment by the Superintendent of Cultural Heritage regarding the development at Triq Ġnien Xibla, Xagħra, applies to them all: 'The Superintendence notes with serious concern that the scale and intensity of the development being proposed is totally incompatible with the site's location'."

 

 Xaghra development - proposed development at Triq Gnien Xibla

"These developments are fast ruining the beauty of Gozo's characteristic villages, the very quality that tourists seek out, therefore undermining tourism that Gozo depends upon. It is up to our politicians to ensure that the PA ceases to be a permitting authority and assumes its responsibility as a Planning Authority to ensure Gozo's economic future, as well as residents' quality of life."


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